Thursday, January 17, 2013



Naomi Watts: Dr. Maria Bennett
Ewan McGregor: her husband Henry
Tom Holland: their 14-old-son Lucas

We’ve all seen videos taken of the devastating tsunami that slammed into coastal South East Asia on Boxing Day 2004 but never with such intensity. By focusing on the struggle of one family the movie brings the disaster into perspective. If you ever had any doubt, let me assure you that you do not want to be caught in one of these.

It should be noted that some liberties have been taken with the facts: instead of the Spanish speaking family of Alvarez Belon they are presented as the Bennett family of British ex-pats living in Japan. As such we are spared having to read  sub-titles in English.

The producers have wisely not dwelt upon the repulsive “in-your-face” images instead just showing a flopping fish to represent the human destruction. I can handle that.

The acting is uniformly good and they are called upon  to show a wide range of emotions as the true story unfolds.
 for intense realistic disaster sequences, disturbing injury images and brief nudity.

  • The full moon is high in the sky as the family sits down for dinner then by the time they’re finished the it is almost on the horizon. In real life it takes all night to do that not a matter of an hour or two.
  • When the moon is near the horizon it remains bright white whereas in reality it has a warm orange tinge to it that gradually fades as it ascends.
  • Finally the so-called moon illusion is missing as it does not appear to be any  larger than when it was high in the sky.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


The movie’s title is military-jargon for some unspecified time when it’s dark, either very late at night or very early in the morning. It is somewhat equivalent to “the wee small hours of the morning”.

A black project is a highly classified military or national security undertaking. Its existence is not acknowledged by government, military personnel nor by defence contractors. The location where it takes place is referred to as a black site.

ISI is the intelligence agency of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

UBL refers to the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden

Jason Clarke: Dan, a CIA interrogator in Pakistan
Jessica Chastain: Maya, a young CIA recruit
Kyle Chandler: CIA station chief Joseph Bradley
Jennifer Ehle: Maya’s friend and fellow CIA officer Jessica
Mark Strong: CIA Langley boss George
James Gandolfini: CIA Director

This fact based movie chronicles the decade long hunt for Osama bin Laden following the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in 2001. Unlike most Hollywood productions, this one is matter-of-fact without the usual over-the-top embellishment. Consequently some will find the true-to-life “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture by any other name) of bin Laden’s nephew repugnant and will have to avert their eyes.

At times the dialogue will be incomprehensible to most everyone because it is spoken so rapidly, replete with CIA jargon and the suspect’s names are so similar it gets confusing. But the gist of it becomes apparent later.

There are any number of fine performances but that of Jessica Chastain is simply outstanding. The production values are first rate with great attention to detail making it seem more like a documentary than just another movie.

 for strong violence including brutal disturbing images and for language.

The price of a 6-speed Lamborghini LP-550 starts at $187,000.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Matt Damon: Steve Butler, corporate salesman for Global Crosspower Solutions
Frances McDormand: his associate Sue Thomason
Titus Wlliver: store clerk Rob
Rosemarie DeWitt: school teacher Alice
Hal Holbrook: high school science teacher Frank Yates
John Krasinski: environmental advocate Dustin Noble

Getting land owners to sign leases granting drilling rights to gas companies is controversial although there is some attempt here to present both sides of the story. The acting is uniformly good, the production values are all top-notch and the pacing is fine.

But it will be left with the viewer to decide the merits of this new process.

 for language (which makes no sense to me given that there is just one f-word)

Steve gets off the bus pulling his suitcase. He turns the corner and meets up with Sue but his wheelie is no where to be seen. It has disappeared.

Steve says “hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 50 years”. In fact fracking (the horizontal slickwater fracturing method) has been used by the industry for just 15 years. Intentional deception or a nitpick? You know which one gets my vote.

Sue and Steve are driving in an old pickup that would not meet State laws as it has no rear-view mirror in any of the head-on shots. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Springwood Estate in Hyde Park, NY (about 70 miles south of Albany) was the birthplace and lifelong home of FDR. He often stayed there as a vacation getaway even while serving as President.

Laura Linney: Margaret Suckley, distant relative of FDR
Elizabeth Wilson: the President’s mother Sara Ann
Bill Murray: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
Olivia Williams: the First Lady Eleanor
Samuel West: King George VI “Bertie”
Olivia Colmand: Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth Marvel: Marguerite Missy LeHand, the President’s secretary

What a missed opportunity: rather than depicting FDR as a powerful man who was instrumental in getting the USA out of the Great Depression and the one who led the country to becoming the super power it is today, he is shown as nothing more than a womanizer. If we were looking for another example of immoral behaviour we could pick up a copy of the National Enquirer, that  trashy American tabloid found at check-out counters.
Another serious shortcoming is that very little is said about the circumstances for the visit by British royalty (the first ever) just months before war broke out in Europe and even less about the American political situation and the constraints imposed on FDR by the populace, both significant, both totally underdeveloped and both virtually ignored.

Case in point: FDR and the King are alone in his study having after-dinner drinks and instead of discussing the real reasons for the visit they spend their time blathering on about their respective handicaps and women.

Production values are first-rate but that is not reason enough to waste your time on this clunker.

for brief sexuality (but one more huge mistake, it should be PG at worst).

Although FDR wore rimless Pince-nez eyeglasses they were never perched on the end of his nose in such a jaunty manner.

The King and Queen are shown arriving at Springwood Estate being greeted by FDR sitting in front of the porch steps. In fact, the King and Queen after several days spent in Washington, DC accompanied FDR and Eleanor on the drive up to Hyde Park.

According to King George’s handwritten notes the Prime Minister of Canada, McKenzie King took part in the first conversation with the President but he is never even mentioned.

King George goes on to say they discussed “matters of extreme importance” not the light banter depicted in the movie.

The red telephone on FDR’s desk was a secure communication line first established in 1963 during the Cold War between the White House and the Soviet Union, some 23 years after these events took place.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Original title De rouille et d’os
In French with English subtitles

Matthias Schoenaerts: a mid 20’s single father Ali
Armand Verdure: his 5-year-old son Sam
Corinne Masiero: Ali’s sister Anna
Marion Cotillard: Stéphanie, trainer at Marineworld
Céline Sallette: her best friend Louise

The screen story is choppy and could do with a rewrite. Case in point: Ali sees a woman smoking and says something to the effect “nice day isn’t it?” and the next scene is a close-up of them making love. Like where’s the rest of that encounter?

Speaking of sex, it strikes me that the love ‘em and leave ‘em, wham/bam thank you ma’am-type encounters coupled with the extended violent brutal fights serve only to justify the R rating and not advance the story in a meaningful way. Furthermore the film is too long at two hours. Next time they should hire a competent screen editor.

And there are many inexplicable situations that make no sense, that defy logic. For example why does Stéphanie call Ali of all people whom she’s only known for half an hour at most? And once she gets to know him better why continue the relationship with such an irresponsible, inconsiderate, uneducated, boorish man? Surely she can do better! It simply does not ring true.

There is only one reason to see the movie: to experience the wonderful performance of Cotillard yourself. Other than that, there is nothing else of any redeeming value to it.

 for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, violence and language.

Something got lost in translation: there is no literal reference to either rust or bones. Perhaps it’s meant in a philosophical manner?